Introduction: Probiotic Rich Dill Pickles

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Lacto-fermentation is a traditional method of making pickles without using vinegar. Pickles made in this manner are alive and rich in probiotics. In this age of antibiotics we all need whatever extra help we can get in making sure the balance of the flora growing in our intestines is as helpful to our absorption and production of nutrients as possible.

Fermentation with lactic acid is also a very safe way to preserve your foods. Please enjoy this recipe, if you would like more information on lactic-acid fermentation and the health benefits of such foods please visit my site


Step 1: Wash Cucumbers

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For 8-10 small cucumbers use about two jars and 1 quart (litre) of brine. Wash your cucumbers to help clean off any unwanted extra ingredients.

Step 2: Prepare Brine

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Using an old olive oil bottle (any bottle that is about 1 litre or 1 quart will do, make sure it has a good lid).

For one quart (litre) of water add about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salt. I prefer to use Himalayan crystal salt or sea salt. Shake the bottle of water well to make sure all of the salt is dissolved.

It is best to use filtered water or water that is un-chlorinated, if you don't have a filter, let the water stand overnight, the chlorine will evaporate.

Step 3: Prepare Spices

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There are quite a few spices you can use which add a nice taste. Dill is traditional, I like to add fennel seeds and sometimes chili peppers. The mustard seeds and horseradish root help to keep the pickles more crispy. I have also heard grape leaves help with this. Feel free to experiment. This is one of my favorite combinations of spices.
  • small handful fennel seeds
  • 6-10 black peppercorns
  • 1 T mustard seeds
  • 5-7 cloves
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • dill flower heads and leaves
  • small handful of coriander seeds
  • 1 horseradish root, sliced
  • cinnamon bark
Put the spices into the prepared (quart size is good) jars.

Step 4: Poke Cucumbers

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Poke the cucumbers with a fork about three times on various sides. This will help the brine to penetrate the cucumber more quickly.

Step 5: Stuff Jars

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Squeeze as many cucumbers as you can into each jar. Pack them in tightly. If they are poking too much out of the jar, you can also cut them in half. They will need to be in far enough to have the brine fully covering them.

Step 6: Add Brine

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Pour the brine in over the cucumbers and spices. Make sure that the brine covers the ends of the cucumbers by at least 1/2 an inch (1 1/2 cm).

Step 7: Allow to Ferment

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Close the jar tightly with a lid and set in a warm place (out of direct sunlight) in your kitchen for about 3 days or until the bubbles subside.

Place the jars into a cool place or a cellar for at least 6 weeks before eating. Once you have opened the jar, keep it in the fridge.

Easy and delicious! Other vegetables can also be made in this manner, like asparagus, cauliflower, pearl onions....

This is a much more affordable, practical and delicious method to use to make sure you have healthy bacterial growing in your intestinal garden than buying expensive and often useless supplements!

More information on lacto-fermentation and other recipes can be found here.


ltassel (author)2016-12-29

But... are the pickles tasty?

ltassel (author)ltassel2016-12-29

Also... is it necessary to poke the pickles? Is it possible to not puncture them and just allow for a longer time for the fermentation process to complete?

LibraryPAL (author)2016-10-03

I tried this type of pickle for the first time and after a couple of days the liquid turned cloudy. Does this mean the pickles are spoiled? I think I mistakenly put in some dill flowers (already opened) instead of just flower heads. This might be the problem. Wondering if I should throw the batch out. Any suggestions?

AmybethH1 (author)LibraryPAL 2016-10-17

Agreed, the cloudy water means that you have good bacteria. And, you can empty that brine out and add fresh water if you want. But, save the brine! Those good bacteria will speed up the process in your next batch.

ChloeB37 (author)LibraryPAL 2016-10-05

It typically means you have good live cultures growing in your jar so it should be fine. Use common sense though; if your pickles smell bad or look off then throw them out.

BarryB38 (author)2016-05-16

The intellectuals here are trying to 'solve' a problem...they are missing one thing: EXPERIENCE.

MikeLoriG (author)BarryB382016-06-04

Probiotics in food are the best!!! Don't you just get tired of people believing the science lab over actually seeing people healed with healed!

MikeLoriG (author)MikeLoriG2016-06-04

oops...FOOD! healing comes from eating clean, real food!

DavidA60 (author)2015-08-08

Mary LynnL (author)2015-07-20

Mjas (author)2012-09-11

Will it matter that I used 1-1/2 tsp instead of 1-1/2 tablespoons of salt?? I have 8 jars on my cupboard and they have not bubbled yet. :(

sharonkende (author)Mjas2015-05-30

It shouldn't. Many say even if not exact, you are ok

aalberts (author)2015-03-22

Perhaps there is something in/with those few surviving bacteria that makes them more bioavailable, that we do not yet Know about, and therefore all the traditional ("anecdotal") evidence about the efficacy is not all lies and "snake oil." Being a Real scientist means you should have an open mind-- you might Discover something. Oh, and I trust my granny (and friends) more than Any degreed bashers.

sharonkende (author)aalberts2015-05-30

You know, that is a great point. how do we measure the bioavailabilty of each source of probiotics?

Warthaug (author)2010-03-26

I forgot to add to my last comment,

The flower end of cucumbers (the end opposite the stem) contains enzymes that can cause the pickles to go soft.  Many people remove this end to prevent this; it really can help make for crisper pickles.  I'm lazy, so I cut both ends off instead figuring out which end is the flower end (plus they pickle faster this way).  This method works for both this (fermentation) as well as traditional (heat) pickling.

HellaDelicious (author)Warthaug2010-03-29

This is a great tip. Also adding in things with high tannings helps like the grape leaves. I have also found that adding chili peppers helps a bit too. I don't personally mind if the pickles are so crispy or a little softer.

other things high in tannins are black tea leaves. i use sour cherry leaves because we happen to have a sour cherry tree in the yard. they do a great job. thanks warthog for the tip about cutting the flowering end.

I wonder where you work? for NIH? Do you do studies on probiotics? sounds as if you do.

#7 (author)2012-07-19


sharonkende (author)#72015-05-30

i believe any vegetable will do. yes, the texture will be like that marinated zucchini you get with roasted red peppers (in fancy salads).

OleGrannyGuts (author)2015-02-12

Would this work for sweet pickles? Thank you

yes, but I would add the sweetener (molasses or sugar) at the end because it could interfere with the fermentation process. pathogenic bacteria feed on sugar and any from your hands would be encouraged to grow. the salt tends to kill unwanted bacteria but only if there is enough of it…don't take the chance

clpapy (author)2014-01-10

Just wondering if using Pickle Crisp or lime will interfere with the probiotic goodness?

rachellepatten (author)2013-04-09

I made these pickles 10 days ago. There is white stuff on the bottom of the jars and on the cucumber stems. Is this mold? What did I do wrong? I sterilized the jars also.

No that is not anything to worry about. Sometimes the lactobacillus forms this white stuff.

By the way I highly recommend checking out these amazing pickles made in oak barrels on Whidby Island in Washington State:

The tannins from the oak give the pickles this amazing almost smoked flavor. If any of you have access to oak barrels it might be worth a try!

HellaDelicious (author)2010-09-13

By the way, if the weather is hot, you may only need to leave the pickles out for one or two days. After you have made them a few times you will know what amount of time you prefer to leave them out for. Various people may like them more sour or less, so try them a few times and see how you like it. I also eat them before waiting 6 weeks most of the time.

HellaDelicious (author)2010-09-03

It is best to use jars with the canning tops that have the rubber seal. After two or three days some of the gasses and juice will be released through the seal, this is fine. It is best to put an old towel or something under the jars as they are fermenting so that these juices don't get everywhere.

PaulsMom (author)2010-07-25

Hi I'm looking for some clarification....You don't put these in a water bath after making them. All the other recipes I've read say you need to do this for safety....? I have a recipe my grandmother gave me that is a sweet dill. Her instructions did not include heat processing. Her's was more like yours , no water bath and 8 weeks to cure. Just want to make sure I'm being safe. Thanks for any help.

HellaDelicious (author)PaulsMom2010-08-06

No need for a water bath. This is a real traditional method without using vinegar. Usually pickles using vinegar will need a water bath. This method just encourages the lactobacili to grow and ferment. These pickles are delicious. I often do this with asparagus too and they are fantastic as well. Yum.

craftymaven (author)2010-03-25

I've made these too using a mandoline  to slice the cucumbers, and the pickles are ready to eat in 3-4 days. They ferment faster in the warm summer months. The kids LOVE these! Check out Weston A Price and Nourishing Traditions for more information on old-style eating. There's also a book (and website) called Wild Fermentation that gives info about fermenting many other foods. Most veggies contain lactobacilli on their leaves or skins, and under the right conditions, they grow into lactic acid, great for digestion. I've never tested how long they keep, cause they're gobbled up at our place. Good instructable, thanks for spreading the word.

Awesome! Thanks for adding in all the links to those great informational sites. I love both those books too and I am really needing to get a mandoline too!

kissiltur (author)2010-03-25

that is a gloriously simple pickling method, but where does the lactic acid come from?

HellaDelicious (author)kissiltur2010-03-29

The salt helps to prevent other organisms from growing and encourages the growth of the lactobacilli bacteria. You can vary the amounts of salt or add whey instead, it is good to experiment yourself to see how you prefer the flavor.

A good book with tons of info on fermentation and lots of traditional recipes is Sandor Ellix Katz book Wild Fermentation if you are looking for in depth information I think this book is an excellent resource.

SinAmos (author)2010-03-24

Quick question - how long can you store them after the initial 6 weeks?

HellaDelicious (author)SinAmos2010-03-29

You can store them for quite long periods in a cool place. I haven't ever stored them for longer than this since I can barely wait six weeks to eat them in the first place!

thepelton (author)2010-03-25

I gotta try this.  I love dill pickles.

SinAmos (author)2010-03-24

I love it.

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Bio: Local Food. Global Flavor. Food for roots, health, peace and community. A food oriented DIY culture.
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